Head of Columbia Jewish Studies Program Resigns

By Marissa Brostoff

Published March 13, 2008, issue of March 21, 2008.

Professors at Columbia University have been mum over the abrupt resignation last month of Michael Stanislawski as director of the school’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, an umbrella for scholars anchored in other departments.

Stanislawski declined to comment on his change in status at the institute, which was established in 2005 in part to act as a foil for the university’s department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures, popularly known as MEALAC, a program that many consider hostile to Israel. Stanislawski remains a part of the institute as a professor of Jewish history and literature.

Other professors at the institute, as well as the Columbia administration, declined to comment or said only that Stanislawski had resigned for personal reasons.

The confusion increased when The New York Sun erroneously reported, on February 28, that Yinon Cohen, a sociology professor in the department, would take the institute’s reins. Misinformed by a Sun reporter that Cohen, who leans leftward on Israeli politics, was slated to become director, some faculty and students expressed discomfort.

As the Sun subsequently reported, Jeremy Dauber, a professor of Yiddish, has been appointed interim director.



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